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We all have bad habits and they are very hard to change, even with the best intentions. So how do you help a child change a bad habit without endless nagging?

I use the “Give Me Five” routine.

Let me give you an example. Your child is in the habit of getting up from the kitchen table without clearing their place. They just rush off to the TV. You have told them again and again, but still they forget.

The reason is that they have a habit. As they finish their meal, their body and subconscious mind is in the habit of next standing and then walking away. We need to instil the new habit of standing, picking up the plate and cup and then walking.

Well, practice is the mother of all skills. So, just get your child to practice the right routine five times. They sit back down, stand up, pick up the plate and cup and head towards the dishwasher. But after a couple of paces they stop and return to the table, put it all down on the table and sit down again, before repeating the whole procedure.

After five times, their brain will be picking up the new habit. If five isn’t enough, we go to ten!

You can do all of this without any shouting or irritation. It is a very peaceful process and I promise you it works a dream.

Of course, in our house it works both ways. If I have a bad habit the children are quick to get me changing it too in the same way! “Give me five, Dad!”


David Morgan is CEO of Oxford Learning Solutions, publisher of the Easyread System. Easyread is an online course that helps children with dyslexia, auditory processing disorder, and highly visual learning styles improve their reading and spelling through short daily lessons. Find out more at or on Facebook at